What’s Your Sound Quality?

Mickey Smith Jr.Blog, Connect Better, Differentiate Better, Engage Better, Lead Better


  • Internal “sound-quality” = the way you make students feel through your words, actions, and deeds by the way you engage, educate, and elevate every learner towards excellence.
  • It’s important to stay passionate and purpose-driven because YOU are the essential element to every classroom experience and every learner’s excellence.
  • We need to take the time to recognize and understand what matters to us and about us.

We All Have a “SOUND”

When all is said and done, my hope is that my students remember the way I made them feel as much as anything I taught them. This is what I refer to as my “sound-quality.” As a GRAMMY Music Educator Award Recipient, my sound of significance is not from an ensemble I conduct or an instrument I play. My sound of significance is my unique, personal significance. It’s my capacity to resonate with my students as a result of my words, actions, and deeds.

My personal sound-quality is demonstrated in my ability to engage, educate, and elevate every learner to excellence. The good news is you don’t have to have virtuosic musical ability to generate a sound that makes a difference. Our sound-quality is not audible, it’s internal. Whether or not you have musical prowess, you have a “sound.”

Your “sound” and your ability to be a sound-adult resides in those beautiful, ordinary, everyday moments and opportunities that we experience both in and out of the classroom. Staying passionate and purpose-driven for 180 days of school and beyond can feel like a daunting task as well as an arduous journey. But in truth, it’s a work of heart that’s a hero’s journey. And it’s one that you’re well equipped to make if you KEEP ON GOING. But why is persevering with passion and purpose as important as pedagogy in the classroom?

As an educator, YOU are the essential element to every classroom experience and every learner’s excellence. Don’t underestimate, undervalue, or overlook things that make you significant to those you teach and those you do life with. Click To Tweet

Each of Our “SOUNDS” Have a Quality

Our journey, called the school year, is what I refer to as a SOUND180. On this 180 day journey, we as teachers are the vehicles for carrying content to the kids in our classrooms. Classroom excellence, therefore, is a result of our ability not only to teach their minds but to also be in pursuit of their hearts (interests).

Being in touch and in tune with our hearts and minds first is a byproduct of us having personal passion and purpose. Our personal passion and purpose is important because it works together to ignite and fuel our educator engine of excellence so that we don’t exit from possibilities but we NEXT-it to our promise so ultimately those we teach realize the promise inside themselves.

Making our next steps our best steps and our next sounds our best sounds is what the SOUND180 journey is all about. Without our educator excellence-engine, we would simply stall out in our potential and so would our students. Sound classrooms are energized by you, the educators, first and foremost. As an educator, YOU are the essential element to every classroom experience and every learner’s excellence.

You matter more than you know. Everything important to you is important about you. The promise we achieve and the legacy we leave is not simply found in the quantity of our life, but in the quality of our lives.

Sound180 Educators Soundcheck

Besides teaching, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing and are good at? What do you find value in? What hobbies or activities add value to your everyday life?

You may be wondering what these questions have to do with teaching. Recognizing your gifts and passions in the form of hobbies and activities is important because at the intersection of our passion and gift, we find our “sound.” Our sound is our significance and it is comprised of everything that is significant to you and about you, in and out of the classroom.

It is important to always remember that teaching is not just about the subject matter but showing children that they matter. Kids don’t care how much we as teachers know until they first know how much we care as sound-adults. This may sound crazy having just said that, but being sound starts with taking time to recognize and understand what matters to us and about us.

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When I travel the country providing educator encouragement and professional development, I often have to fly commercial. Every flight attendant reminds us that in the event of an emergency, we must put our oxygen mask on first BEFORE tending to the needs of others.

Take time to account for yourself, educators. Don’t underestimate, undervalue, or overlook the things (no matter how small) that make you significant to those you teach and those with whom you do life. Your sound will change this world if you KEEP ON GOING because every child is just one sound-adult away from discovering their own sound and success.

Be the sound to change their world.

Make your classroom sound.

Make your teaching epic.

I promise you that your legacy will be significant.


About Mickey Smith Jr.

The name Mickey Smith Jr. has become synonymous with the word “music” across the country. This dynamic and driven sax man is passionate about music and education. Mickey has served as a band director in Louisiana and Texas since 2005. Most recently, he was named band director at The Greene School in West Palm Beach, Florida. He continues to educate and entertain as he serves educators with his SOUND180 EDUCATORS program.

Mickey supports organizations that promote music education for children. For example, Mickey has served as president of the non-profit Musicmakers2U, which gives deserving young people musical instruments at no cost. In 2020 Mickey was named as the GRAMMY Music Educator Award Recipient. This award recognizes the top music instructor in the nation. Mickey uses a unique motivational mixture of music and message to encourage educators across all disciplines to KEEP ON GOING and DISCOVER THEIR SOUND.